Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kei Akagi

Kei Akagi came to the college to do a seminar today. I was thrilled to meet him (2nd time) and it was a pleasure to hear what he had to say about playing with some of my heroes, like Miles Davis and Allan Holdsworth. I originally saw him play with Allan years ago in Hollywood. He is a complete genius. For those of you who aren't familiar with who he is, he was born in Japan but grew up in the states. He has played piano with Miles, Joe Farrell, Al DiMeola, Airto Moreira, Art Pepper, Blue Mitchell, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Charnett Moffett, Tom Harrell, Bobby Shew, Eddie Harris, Slide Hampton, Steve Turre, Robin Eubanks, Jean-Luc Ponty, Jeff Watts, Allan Holdsworth, and others. He is currently the Chancellor Professor of Music at the University of California, Irvine. It was a very exciting day and I usually don't get very excited about things like this, last time was when I met Jeff Beck.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Even More Nutty Japanese (English) T-shirts

I think they got the message wrong with this one:

Drugs Not Hugs

Probably backwards....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dedication to my Father

Dear Dad,

Sorry to be late again. I had actually forgotten Father’s Day this year. Since I became a father myself, I don’t particularly like Father’s Day, matter of fact I hate it. I love being a father, but during this time of the year, I’m in Tokyo and being separated on Father’s Day from my daughter is especially difficult for me. While all the other fathers in Japan are getting cards and presents from their kids, I’m stuck by myself. So I was actually trying to forget about Father’s Day.

But a few days ago, one of my old highschool friends, told me that he had gotten the guitar book I wrote as a present for Father’s Day and it reminded me once again of you.

I did a lot of soul searching over this and wanted to tell you something, something I probably never said before. Although you never talked much about it, I know you grew up in way worse times than me. You were fourteen when World War II ended and having grown up in Hamburg, probably the most bombed city in Europe, had your share of tragedies. I remember you told me once that your home got bombed while you were out during the day, and you told me of the sirens going off in the middle of the night and rushing to the basement of your building to put on gas masks. And you told me that you would go up to the roof of your apartment building after the air raids were over each night to count the fires in the city. I recall you once told me that you had no place to live and lived on a boat for a while.

But usually these stories only came when I asked you about your childhood, you never once gave me that; “You kids have it too easy, you know, when I was a kid we….” type of talks. I remember a story you told me about the war, how you kept a goat for milk and cheese and how it got stolen. And that the thieves were decent enough to leave the head behind so at least you could make soup. I never knew till Mom told me that your father had been away in the war for years and years and your family thought he had died till he finally came back after the war was over.

You never got the chance to go to college and become an architect like you wanted but because of you I had the chance to become anything I wanted. Sorry I became a musician, even you never complained about that either. You never said you had a miserable childhood and never complained about the bad set of cards you got dealt in life. I know you had your demons to deal with and unlike so many people, you kept it a private battle.

When you got in your twenties, you packed your bags and looked for a new life in America. You came on a boat from Europe with a couple hundred bucks and a German/English dictionary, landed a job, got married to a beautiful American woman and raised a family. You took good care of us and your spirit of adventure rubbed off on me. Because of what you did; leaving home to find new opportunities, I could find the courage to do it too. First Los Angeles, then Tokyo.

I suppose you never wanted us to have the kind of life you did and we didn’t, we grew up never knowing of such things. Matter of fact we were spoiled, we never wanted for anything. We never knew what it was like to not have three meals a day, to not have new clothes when we needed them. You worked six days a week, gone before I got up to go to school and back home at nine or ten at night. You were never out drinkin’ it up with the boys like I do. You had only Sunday off and you never failed to take us somewhere, to the beach or to the car races. We had a nice family vacation every year in Ocean City. You taught me how to tell time and to tie my shoes. You bought me my first guitar. And I never said thanks for anything. Even though I spent the last few days of your life with you in the Hospital, I didn’t even tell you then.

So let me take this chance to say thanks to you Dad. I’m so sorry I didn’t say it while you were alive. And I’m sorry I had to post it on the internet, but considering Heaven must have an internet connection, it is the only way I figured you’d be able to read it. I can’t help but wonder if your goat that they stole got to heaven too?

Your Loving Son,


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Curry In Japan

This is one of my new goofy Japanese adventures involving Indian Curry. Let me start from the beginning by introducing my friend Hiro, he's the guy down there wiping his face with a towel. Hiro and I live in the same area of Tokyo, Monzen Nakacho to be exact. We have been on this mission, like a lot of middle aged men, to become real men. So we started by going to the gym every other day and running 5K followed by a weight training regiment. Needless to say we are getting buff. After our training sessions, we make way to the local Indian Curry restaurant, Binita. The first time, we ordered our curry, vegetable curry if you really need all the details, and started at level 4 out of a possible 10 (look at the poster on the wall) because we were scared. And it was pretty hot. We agreed that we would try to work our way up to the highest level, 10. Now our motivations were quite simple, we imagined that we would train ourselves to be able to eat the level 10 atomic curry and then go out to dinner with some young girls and when they ordered their curry at girly level 3 or 4 and we would order ours at 10 and eat without even breaking a sweat. And of course the girls would think us manly men. Today we reached the pinacle, level 10. It was a fun journey. The Indian man who runs the place and all the other Indian people working there, learned of our amitions and instead of the usual "Irashaimase," meaning welcome in Japanese, when we entered their fine establishment, they would say; "Today is number 9, right?" We would drink our complimentary beer and partake in our atomic curry. When we got to about 8, the waiters would peak out at us to make sure we were OK. Hiro would sweat more at the curry place than at the gym, bringing an extra towel with him everytime.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Yes, More Nutty Japanese (English) T-shirts

Not that crazy, but still a little nutty:

I (love) Smile Again & Girl